All Blacks confirm shirt sponsorship deal
October 12, 2012
Richie McCaw shows off the new All Blacks shirt © Getty Images
New Zealand have broken with tradition to sign a five-and-a-half-year shirt sponsorship deal with global insurance company American International Group (AIG).
The All Blacks' playing strip has long included the name of kit manufacturers adidas but it will now also feature another corporate logo for only the second time with the team having been previously sponsored by brewer Steinlager during the 1990s.
The New Zealand Rugby Union said the sponsorship arrangement was needed to boost cash reserves and put the Union on a sustainable footing although the exact financial details have not been released. The deal , first reported earlier this year, leaves France as the only major rugby playing nation without a shirt sponsor.
Under the agreement, AIG will be the Major Global Sponsor of the New Zealand Rugby Union and Official Insurance Partner of the All Blacks, sponsoring all the major New Zealand national teams, including the All Blacks, the Maori All Blacks and the New Zealand Black Ferns as well as Sevens and U20 teams.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said: "This is a great day for New Zealand rugby. This is an exciting new partnership that will further secure the future of rugby at all levels in this country and pave the way for our game to reach new fans around the world."
Tew continued: "Today's announcement is a game changer for New Zealand rugby. New Zealand rugby was already benefitting from the most valuable sponsorship in the rugby world through its partnership with adidas. To the best of our knowledge, the partnership with AIG is the second most valuable rugby sponsorship.
"We have new and ambitious goals, including winning gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with men's and women's sevens, so it's vital we have sponsors like AIG and adidas backing us over the long term.
"This new partnership will significantly strengthen our ability to maintain New Zealand rugby's edge in the competitive world in which we operate."
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said: "It's really flattering that a company this big has chosen New Zealand rugby to be its cornerstone sponsorship. It shows incredible respect for our traditions, heritage and record of success across all our teams."
AIG sponsored English Premier League club Manchester United from 2006 to 2010 but ended the deal after receiving a record $182 billion bailout from the US government at the height of the global financial crisis.
The All Blacks will wear the new jersey for the first time when they play Australia in Brisbane on October 20.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September